I was a teacher for two terms, or one year, at a public high school in Thailand. The public school is government funded and are just called government schools. They require stuents to wear uniforms and sometimes teachers have to wear special shirts. Usually we wore what ever we wanted as long as the skirts were long and Tatoos were hidden. Male teachers wore dress pants and a collared shirt. I asked my principal if I could wear pants, but they were "not suitable for ladies".
A typical day of teaching consisted of me waking up at 7 am. I would arrive to school at 7:45 in time for the morning assembly, which was the singing of the Thai national anthem and school Buddhist prayer. I would grab breakfast sometimes at the canteen and teach my first two classes. I had my own classroom, but some teachers move from class to class. I would have lunch around noon with my coworkers, we would go to the canteen or travel by motorbike together to a small shop to eat. I would teach my last two or three classes and then head home. Since my agency provided my lessons, I did not have to take extra time before or after school to plan lessons. I often just went over my lessons before I taught them if they were new.
I had Thai co-workers and 2 other "foreign" co-workers from the United States and England. If I ever had any questions I could ask the head of my department or my Thai co-teacher/helper. She orangized grades and class schedules, and could sometimes come in to translate for me in class.
My biggest tip to anyone teaching any grade level in any country are there are many things you can do in the classroom that are pretty much universal.
Create a simple easy set of class rules and stick to them.
Uphold a simple reward system for good behavior.
Share a little about yourself in a slideshow or on the first day of school, so the students connect with you better.
There were some surprising cultural differences I found once I arrived. Many teachers in Thailand will still hit the kids with a bamboo stick as a form of discipline. School uniforms and haircuts were very strictly enforced. Prayer time, and the national anthem are taken very seriously. Regular playing cards were frowned upon as gambling was illegal. There was a framed picture of the king in almost every class room. Sometimes the school failed to inform the foreign teachers or days where dressing in a certain color was mandatory. Sometimes the schools also failed to inform foreign teachers that there was a holiday, until the day before.
Sometimes teachers, and student clubs or groups will ask you for help with activities involving English. I would always take the opportunity to help. One Thai teacher asked me to check her daughters' job application as a flight attendant. The robotics club asked me to help them prefect their presentation in English for a competition. Helping with projects like these will really help your reputation in school and they're especially rewarding things to do.
Teaching in a foreign country is an adventure and quite a learning experience. Anyone interested in teaching abroad should definately go and give it a try. It's so worth the long flight.
On arrival to Thailand there is are some important pieces of paperwork to bring with you. I brought my original unopened diploma and university transcripts, and original birth certificate. I also brought photo copies of everything including my passport, State ID, credit/debit cards, driver's license, Teaching certificate (TESOL), etc. Make sure the original diploma and transcripts are in a sealed envelope.
Before departing, while still in the United States, I obtained a "Letter of Clearance". I was able to do this at a local UPS store for $50. All they did was take my fingerprints and arrange the letter for me. This is a background check to insure that I did not have any felonies or arrests.
I would also recommend international travel insurance like Travel Guard, Allianz or Travelex. It depends on how long you will be traveling. I used World Nomads for my travel insurance because I was going to be gone for a long time, but, there are different coverage plans to choose from on all insurances. Be sure to compare them all. My plan cost me about $250 for the year.
A visa will be done before you arrive and depending on what country you are teaching, and how long you intend to stay can effect your visa. For Thailand, I applied for a B Visa before flying out, and a working visa once settled in that country.
I also had to obtain a work permit which my agency helped me obtain.
If on a tourist visa, visa runs or border bounces will need to be preformed.
I would also recommend getting a one way flight, and worrying about the return flight later.
Here is a basic checklist for things to do before moving abroad:
Getting a job overseas as a teacher can be easy, but there are usually, not always, some requirements.
If you are teaching English, some schools prefer you are a Native English Speaker, have a degree, TESOL/TEFL certification, and/or experience.
A native English teacher qualifies as a person who has been speaking English since they were a child, and did not learn English as a second language. Schools will hire non-natives, but it may effect the pay of the teacher.
Having a degree in anything can put you a big step ahead. I had a Bacholors in Arts and a TESOL cerficiate. Certificates are important especially when your degree is not in education.
TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
TESOL: Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language.
CELTA: Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
These certificates can be obtained while attending University, online or in a classroom outside of school. The prices can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. The CELTA is the most advanced choice. I chose to do my TESOL through Xplore Asia while in Thailand. My course was about thousand dollars, including the month long hotel stay, English camp and field trips. At the end of my TESOL course through Xplore Asia I got offered a placement as a teacher where I was connected with the teaching agency SINE. SINE provided me with 3 days of more specific training on their material, slideshow and books. Transportation to my placement town was provided by my agency.
To find a job overseas, there are many outlets. A prospective teacher can go on their own and find a job independently. This means flying over with a resmue in hand, and getting a job on arrival by job board, word of mouth, or through a friend/acquaintance recommendation.
Another way is to obtain a teaching job, is to go through an agency. An agency will help you a lot, but sometimes the pay is less. Agencies sometimes provide a lot of helpful rescources though teaching assistances, and pre-made lesson plans. They also have some teaching standards that must be met.
Teaching abroad was a wonderful englightening experience. There are so many different ways to go about teaching overseas. Here are some things to consider when you are planning your move to teach over seas.
What subject or subjects would you like to teach?
What age would you like to teach?
Do you want to teach in a big city or a small town?
What kind of climate are you comfortable?
Do you want to teach at a private or a public school?
How much do you want to earn?
Do you want to teach conversational English or Grammar or both?